REVIEW: ‘Show Dogs’ is a passionless canine caper

I don’t know if anyone was asking for a version of “Miss Congeniality” with dogs, but it was made anyway.

“Show Dogs” tells the story of Max, a Rottweiler voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges who works as a police dog in New York City. The film picks up with him working on a case of panda theft. I know, stick with me. So, because of the case, Max has to team up with an FBI agent named Frank (Will Arnett) to go undercover at a dog show.

So, the dog and dude duo set out to Las Vegas for a prestigious dog show where they suspect the panda thieves will be. While there, Max meets some new friends and discovers that dog shows are more meaningful than he first thought.

So, “Miss Congeniality” obviously came to mind but honestly, “Show Dogs” is any fish-out-of-water story where the protagonist needs to learn something. The only difference here is it’s with dogs, and there are a lot of animal puns.

Every bit of “Show Dogs” is entirely predictable and everything about it feels rehashed. That both applies to the humor and the plot.

Maybe worse than the tired comedy or the ‘been-there-done-that’ story, though, is the fact that the movie lacks any heart. There’s no passion in this film, it feels so mass produced, as if it came off an assembly line.

Films like “Pete’s Dragon” and “The Jungle Book” from 2016 or the recent “Paddington,” are examples of live action family features that have some meaning. Hell, even the new “Peter Rabbit” had more passion than this.

The acting, as one might guess, feels pretty phoned in, too. Ludacris doesn’t really bother to ever change the tone of his voice, so the whole performance doesn’t carry much weight. Arnett, meanwhile, just seems to be going through the motions.

So, is there anything good here? Well, the dogs talking looks kinda goofy and that might provide a chuckle. Although, that might be because of the poor and at times downright bizarre special effects. This is most noticeable during an odd dance sequence that made me question if I was seeing things.

Overall, though, “Show Dogs” is simply a hollow experience. 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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